With the onset of spring, flowers and trees are starting to blossom and bud, the grass is getting greener, the birds are signing and the geese are arriving home from their winter holidays. All wonderful welcoming signs of warmer weather. Although the latter does come with some concern in our parks for the excrement that they leave behind.
The City of Ottawa has several effective methods in place to deter geese.
The City’s aerial hazing program is conducted by a licensed contractor under an agreement that is reviewed and renewed annually. This year, the program operates at Petrie Island, Andrew Hayden Park and Britannia Park. The contractor uses various drones equipped with flashing lights and distress noises. This is only permitted after moulting is completed, as per the requirements of the permit which usually run from early July until Labour Day. The operator arrives on site twice per day, ideally at offset times, to help prevent the birds from becoming overly accustomed to the device. As noted in the permit, geese are adaptive and maintaining a perceived threat is key to ensuring success over the short and long term of any program.
The City also engages in egg management practices at Riverain Park, Strathcona Park, Bordeleau Park, Kingsview Park, Andrew Haydon Park, and Petrie Island. This year, the City will have two coyote decoys at Mooney’s Bay Park and Andrew Haydon Park to further discourage activities. In addition, the City has installed covered three-stream waste receptacles at Mooney’s Bay Park to limit access to food and visitors are encouraged to refer to signage in these areas that prohibit feeding wildlife.
Like most urban wildlife, Canada geese adapt quickly to new conditions. In order for deterrence measures to remain effective, they should be reviewed and modified periodically. The City continues its consultations with the Canadian Wildlife Services to ensure the most appropriate methods to control the goose population are being used, while ensuring a positive visitor experience at parks and beaches across the city.